Politics & Government

State sets record for unemployment claims

It's a record - and not one that anyone can be proud of.

According to a state Employment Security Department news release Wednesday, more than a half-million Washington workers collected nearly $4.7 billion in unemployment benefits in 2010 – eclipsing records set in 2009.

Other information from the release:

 • The department will disburse $4.7 billion in unemployment benefits in 2010, compared to $4 billion in 2009 and $1.2 billion in 2008.

 • The average length of time jobless workers in Washington collected unemployment stretched from 28 weeks at the end of 2009 to 41 weeks by the close of 2010.

 • With a much larger staff, Employment Security employees at the unemployment call centers worked about 46,000 hours of overtime in 2010 – down from about 65,000 in 2009.